Beer Travels with Adrian Tierney-Jones


I once stayed in a palace in Venice with original bits of art in my bedroom, the kind of place where buying a drink at the bar needed a mortgage; and last year I spent a night in a room in Budapest where the lock didn’t work and all kinds of characters were wandering around the courtyard.

And years ago while living in Paris I locked myself outside my room and spent the night slumped against the corridor wall next to a hole-in-the-floor toilet, but I have never stayed in a brewery before. Until now…

Last month I was on the inaugural BrewDog Airlines flight to Columbus, you know the one where the loos were closed 90 minutes before landing. The very same one with over 200 equity punks on board and a handful of journalists. It was no big deal, this taming of the toilet (last mention of toilets, promise), despite what people who weren’t even onboard grumbled about on social media. On the way back, the co-pilot made a joke about blocked toilets before we set off. We didn’t have the same issue this time.

During my visit I spent one night in the BrewDog hotel at the brewing facility just outside Columbus. I enjoyed it and got a joy that I didn’t get from my chain hotel room in Columbus where I’d spent the three previous nights. The design assumed the style of a comic book with its loud colours, a flurry of BIFF! SPLAT! KAPOW! aesthetics coming to rest alongside a more intensive style of psychedelia with a walk on the childlike side.

Luminosity was also the style perhaps — pop art, rock ’n’ roll, the extravagance of a punk Oscar Wilde and a compliment to the hazy, murky, juicy, fruit lollipops of modern craft beer. Inside the room, the squares of the furniture contrasted with the less disciplined shapes of Chesterfield wanna-be sofas, alongside the messages and slogans about trusting in hops and being aboard the Good Ship BrewDog.

Ok the concrete floor gave a sense of coldness, while the wire mesh around the radiator and plated onto the front of wardrobe was a bit Terminator, and I couldn’t switch off the neon sign above my bed, but it was fascinating way for a brewery to branch out.

There were beer books and magazines scattered about like knowledgeable cushions; the brewing process etched on one wall and, of course, the thing every travelling beer geek would need the most – a personal beer tap and a mini bar with classic craft beers. It was modern, hip, quirky and comical with a perceived edginess, but it was fun, normally a word I would not usually associate with BrewDog.

Or should I?

There’s a museum of sorts close to the brewery tap (not a bad place and do you know what, the Elvis Juice brewed here is rather delicious, juicy and grapefruity, fresher tasting than the stuff I buy my son in the UK, someone reckoned the pulp used in the process was better, but I digress), and once again I had to laugh at the sight of a pirate ship made from cans, a Blue Peter style pirate ship. Given that James Watt had said to me on the plane journey over that his favourite cartoon superhero as a child was Captain Planet, this ecological friendly use of finished cans has a certain virtuosity to it.

One last thought on BrewDog, which basically involves the Beatles. On my visit I thought about how Elvis appropriated black music for rock ’n’ roll, while the Beatles then pick-pocketed rock ’n’ roll and eventually brought it back to the US. BrewDog was influenced by American craft beer and now it’s bringing it back home. James Watt as John Lennon? Well, they both got MBEs.

Adrian Tierney-Jones